Jeffrey Shallit is an atheist mathematician who holds to the odd belief that animals, like humans, are capable of reason. It would seem that a highly intelligent man who makes his living by doing mathematics would understand that animals don’t, and can’t, do mathematics. But Dr. Shallit remains confused on this point, as he makes clear in his response to my recent post on that inability of animals to think abstractly or to reason (“An atheist argues against reason”)…
The widely-held philosophical understanding of reason is straightforward. Reason, which is a subset of abstract thought, entails the ability to think without particular objects in mind. That is, abstract thought is the ability to contemplate universals, rather than particulars. Shallit seems unfamiliar with this issue, which entails 3000 years of philosophical discussion and literature.
Michael Egnor, “Can animals “reason”? My challenge to Jeffrey Shallit” at Mind Matters News
Could Shallit be replaced by even the most talented and methodical of counting ravens?
Also by Michael Egnor University fires philosophy prof, hires chimpanzee to teach, research Michael Egnor: A light-hearted look at what would happen if we really thought that unreason is better than reason. University officials noted that, in light of Smith’s convincing argument that reason is a “mark of [human] inferiority” and that “animals and plants do not hesitate, the search committee interviewed several apes, three mules, and a tomato plant.
An Atheist Argues Against Reason. And thinks it is the reasonable thing to do (Michael Egnor)
Also: Philosopher argues, human reason is inferior to animal reactions Smith offers to resolve the problem of human exceptionality by dethroning reason He hopes that artificial intelligence and extraterrestrial life (a “statistical near-certainty”) will help us “give up the idea of rationality as nature’s last remaining exception.”
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